The federal government says it spent more than N500 million to feed pupils during the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Sadiya Umar-Farouq, minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development, disclosed the sum at the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja on Monday.
According to the minister, the clarification became necessary to clear the air over speculations regarding how the federal government disbursed funds for the programme.
At the rate of N4,200 per family, and with 124,589 households impacted, a sum of N523,273,800 was spent on the programme.
“It is critical at this juncture to provide details that will help puncture the tissue of lies being peddled in the public space. The provision of take-home rations, under the modified home grown school feeding programme, was not a sole initiative of the MHADMSD,” she said.
“The ministry, in obeying the presidential directive, went into consultations with state governments through the state governors’ forum, following which it was resolved that take-home rations remained the most viable option for feeding children during the lockdown.
“So, it was a joint resolution of the ministry and the state governments to give out take-home rations. The stakeholders also resolved that we would start with the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states as pilot cases.”
According to her, the implementation was done in line with the March 29 presidential directive, and each family was assumed to have three children.
Umar-Farouq added that the school feeding programme was modified, and 124,589 households were impacted, at the rate of N4,200 per family.
“According to statistics from the NBS and CBN, a typical household in Nigeria has 5.6 to six members in its household, with three to four dependents. So, each household is assumed to have three children,” she said.
“Based on the original design of the home grown school feeding programme, long before it was domiciled in the ministry, every child on the programme receives a meal a day. The meal costs N70 per child.
“When you take 20 school days per month, it means a child eats food worth N1,400 per month. Three children would then eat food worth N4,200 per month and that was how we arrived at the cost of the ‘take-home ration’.
“The agreement was that the federal government will provide the funding while the states will implement. To ensure transparency in the process, we partnered with the World Food Programme (WFP) as technical partners.”
Other government agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), non-governmental organisations, among others, according to the minister, monitored the process.
She said Lagos, Ogun and the federal capital territory (FCT) were covered in the programme which took place between May 14 and July 6.